A band often reflects its leader's character. Consider the Goodman orchestra's buttoned-down swing, the laid-back Basie band, and the flamboyance of many of the Kenton ensembles. I have only seen Terry Gibbs once, on the S/S Norway's floating jazz festival in 1989. He immediately impressed me with his three-espresso-shot personality. Gibbs is a bundle of intensity and drive which he uses effectively to energize his high voltage Dream Band.
Gibbs was a big band veteran when he moved out to LA in the fifties. His vibes had been featured by Tommy Dorsey, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman and Benny Goodman. Out there he worked in the studios, was musical director for Steve Allen and others, and somehow found time to write over 300 tunes. He still leads a Dream Band now and then but considers the 1959-61 edition to be something special. It was! The players were the best in the West. And those arrangers! Al Cohn, Sy Johnson, Manny Albam, Med Flory, Wes Hensel, and Bob Brookmeyer. That's the band that is featured in these live 1959 sessions from the Seville and Sundown clubs in Hollywood.
"One More Time" generates excitement from Gibbs' opening count on the swinging riff tune"Fuzz" all the way to the closing chorus of "Jumpin' at the Woodside" where he plays more piano with two fingers than most of us can do with all ten. The band is a wonderful blend of professionalism and enthusiasm. There's a lot of shouting going on and it isn't all from the omnipresent leader. In addition, we have the ultimate big band drummer, Mel Lewis, stoking the fires.
On"Opus One" the tempo is turned up several notches from the original and the altos are featured in a friendly duel. 'Subtle Sermon " is an easy going Baptist beat chart that's a great framework for solos. Then there's "Flying Home." It's a romp! Gibbs ,with his dynamic solo, and pianist Lou Levy, who furnishes a bop-flavored intro. prove that low-volume instruments can generate electricity. Conte Candoli is showcased on a soulful "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," alone with the saxes, and then with the band on "I Remember You" and the Gibbs' blues, "The Fat Man." Then the immortal Irene Kral, with that unadorned voice, comes up to the bandstand from her ringside table for three numbers with Gibbs and the rhythm section. Her"Moonlight in Vermont' includes some tasty tenor backing by either Med Flory or Bill Perkins. Those must have been some great nights!
An earthquake features in this release which is hardly surprising. Gibbs had to move temporarily due to the 1994 Northridge quake and a lot of his belongings got mixed up. Fortunately, last year he found several boxes of tapes that led to this CD. I hope there's more around the premises. Terry, will you please check!